Whose rocket goes the highest? Stays up the longest? Looks the most realistic?
NAR members have been asking these questions for nearly 40 years — and answering it almost as long. The NAR was founded in 1957, and the first NAR Annual Meet (NARAM) was held in 1959. Since then, tens of thousands of modelers have participated in sanctioned NAR competitions.
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LUNAR has several informal competitions that are just for fun. They don't have any official oversight and don't generate any NAR competition points but are primarily for bragging rights.
The informal competitions are:
- Mile high wall - Attempt to hit exactly a mile high.
- 1/10 mile high wall - Attempt to hit 528 feet exactly.
- 1/100 mile high wall - Attempt to hit 53 feet exactly.
- 1 Km high wall - Attempt to hit 1 Km exactly.
- 2 Km high wall - Attempt to hit 2 Km exactly.
All of these walls are maintained on the lunar website. To compete, write on your launch card that this is a mile high wall attempt (or whatever wall you are attempting to hit). After the flight, read your altimeter and let the LUNAR webmaster know how well you did and what kind of a rocket you were flying. He will put your name and your rocket on the wall for all to see.
If you want to get in on the planning process or just ant to know how competition launches are planned and executed, see the following sections.
Rocket competition in the United States is held according to the NAR's US Model Rocket Sporting Code — or, as it is popularly called, the "Pink Book." The Pink Book describes and gives rules for over 25 different competition events, many of which are further divided according to engine power. The Pink Book is a free benefit of membership in the NAR.
Competitions are held at five levels:
- Section - Limited to the members of a single NAR Section.
- Local - Open to specific neighboring Sections or to any NAR member within a specific geographical area.
- Open - Similar to Local meets, but must draw a minimum number of competitors, and no more than 75% from the same Section.
- Regional - Open to all members in two or more states.
- National - Open to all NAR members. Held annually, in a different area of the country each year.
You can also sanction Record Trials, a popular form of competition at which members compete against the record book instead of each other.
Competitors are divided into three age classifications, corresponding to youth, adolescent, and adult age ranges. Competitors compete only within their own age ranges. In addition, a special classification is available for teams - groups or two or more people flying as a single contestant.
The points that you and your Section earn through competitions throughout the year are added up to determine which of the competitors and Sections at that year's NARAM will go home with one of the National Championship trophies!
The US Model Rocket Sporting Code prescribes rules for over 25 different rocket competition events. Where appropriate, many of these events are further divided by motor power. For example, "B (engine) Altitude" is a different event from "F (engine) Altitude," for obvious reasons!
The events fall into four main groupings:
- Altitude Competitions
- Duration Competitions
- Craftsmanship Competitions
- Miscellaneous Competitions
Official US Records can be set in most of these competition events.
- Altitude - Achieve the highest altitude.
- Super-Roc Altitude - Fly the longest possible rocket to the highest altitude without structural failure. Points are awarded by a formula that takes into account both the length of the rocket and the altitude achieved.
- Predicted Altitude - Fly your rocket as closely as possible to an altitude you predict.
- Set Altitude - Fly your rocket as closely as possible to an altitude chosen by the Contest Director. The altitude is announced in advance of the meet and is the same for everyone.
- Random Altitude - Fly your rocket as closely as possible to an altitude chosen by chance on the day of the meet. The altitude is the same for everyone.
- Cluster Altitude - Achieve the highest altitude possible with a single-stage model using multiple motors.
- Payload - Carry a one-ounce cylinder of sand to the highest possible altitude.
- Egg Lofting Altitude - Carry a fresh hen's egg to the highest possible altitude.
- Dual Egg Lofting Altitude - Carry two fresh hen's eggs to the highest possible altitude.
In general, duration models are not allowed to separate (recover in two or more pieces). This also limits most duration models to being single staged.
- Parachute Duration - Stay aloft the longest with one or more parachutes.
- Streamer Duration - Stay aloft the longest with a single streamer.
- Helicopter Duration - Stay aloft the longest with a model that uses autorotation as the sole recovery device.
- Super-Roc Duration - Stay aloft the longest with the longest possible model. Points are awarded by a formula that takes into account both the length of the rocket and the time aloft.
- Egg Lofting Duration - Stay aloft the longest while carrying a fresh hen's egg.
- Dual Egg Lofting Duration - Stay aloft the longest while carrying two fresh hen's eggs.
- Boost/Glider Duration - Stay aloft the longest with a rocket-boosted glider. The model is allowed to separate and may be multi-staged, since only the glider portion is timed.
- Rocket/Glider Duration - Stay aloft the longest with a rocket-boosted glider. Nothing is allowed to separate — the entire model must boost vertically, but must return in a stable glide. This challenging event usually requires a model with clever moving parts.
- Flex-Wing Boost/Glider Duration - Same as Boost/Glider, except the glider must use flexible wings.
- Predicted Duration - Stay aloft as closely as possible to a time you predict.
- Set Duration - Stay aloft as closely as possible to a time chosen by the Contest Director. The time is announced in advance of the meet and is the same for everyone.
- Random Duration - Stay aloft as closely as possible to a time chosen by chance on the day of the meet. The time is the same for everyone.
Except for Scale Altitude, any motor power is allowed.
- Scale - Build and fly an accurate scale model. Supporting data is required. Judges measure and rank the model. The model must make a safe and stable flight.
- Scale Altitude - Fly an accurate scale model to the highest possible altitude. Models are judged as for scale, and an additional factor is awarded for the altitude achieved.
- Super Scale - Same as Scale, but includes a scale launching complex as well.
- Sport Scale - Same as Scale, but the model is not measured. It is judged for conformation and craftsmanship by a team of judges standing at a distance.
- Giant Scale - Same as Sport Scale, except that models cannot be smaller than a given minimum size.
- Peanut Scale - Same as Sport Scale, except that models cannot be larger than a given maximum size.
- Plastic Model Conversion - Construct a common plastic model of a rocket that was not originally manufactured as a flying kit, and convert it to fly in a safe and stable manner. Points are awarded for both craftsmanship and flight qualities.
- Space Systems - A Sport Scale rocket, along with an optional Sport Scale launch complex, must successfully simulate the flight performance and mission of the original prototype.
- Concept Scale - Build and fly a rocket that has never really been flown, such as a science fiction rocket. This event was created and promoted by our own Jack Hagerty.
- Spot Landing - Land your model closest to the spot chosen by the Contest Director. The spot is the same for everyone. Any motor is allowed. This event can be held in three sub-classes: Parachute; Streamer; or Open (any recovery system allowed).
- Drag Race - Two rockets are launched simultaneously through a single switch. The judges award points for the model that achieves first motion, achieves the lowest altitude, and lands last. The winner of each "heat" goes on to fly subsequent heats until an overall winner is determined.
- Radio-Controlled Glider - A combination of Boost/Glider Duration, Set Duration, and Spot Landing. The object is to fly a Radio-Controlled Boost/Glider as close as possible to a time duration set by the Contest Director, while landing it as close as possible to a spot determined by the Contest Director.
- Research and Development - Contestants prepare and present a written research or engineering project. Oral presentations are required of competitors being considered for the top four places.